5 months ago, I wrote a blog article trying to frame in my mind what bike I might like to undertake this trip on – and I think having written it helped make my decision. It has been a constant reminder not just of how little I actually know about this vast field of options, but of concentrating my decision making.
Strangely, since writing that article, I narrowed the field down to just 2 contenders: Genesis Tour De Fer 20 versus Trek 520 Disc. And yet the Trek wasn’t even in my top-3 at the time! But turning attention to logistics and the economical question: Do I buy a bike in the UK and ship it over/pay excess on flights, or buy a bike in the US and only have to pay to bring it back? Genesis is not available in the US, whereas Trek is; Trek is also a solidly reputable brand which has been recommended to me by friends whose recommendation I would be fairly happy to stand behind.
Then however, about a month ago, I finally firmly decided to take the Genesis. It’s just a FAR better bike – with better components, better touring-specific accessories coming as standard. And if I were to have purchased the Trek in the US (considering current $:£ exchange rate), with all the add-ons I’d look to apply to the Trek, I’d be looking about the same price as the Genesis anyway.
So my decision has been made. I’m going to be cycling across America, from coast to coast, some 4000-odd miles, on the Genesis Tour De Fer 20! I know I’m repeating the bike’s name a bit, but the more confident I become with my decision to take this awesome bike, the more I look forward firstly purchasing the bike and secondly riding it on this fantastic – and increasingly scary – adventure.
So why then am I writing a blog about Bike Rematch Contenders???
Well… Yesterday morning I drove down to Glasgow with the specific purpose of buying this bike, my bike. The bike shop didn’t have one – which didn’t surprise me, I wasn’t expecting to collect and take the bike home yesterday. But the bike-shop guy then said they might not be able to get one until their next shipment in early May!!! I forced a clarification, with specific date being about the 10th or 11th of May. Great, I depart on the 4th!
So I called another bike shop. Over the phone I requested the same bike in my required size and got the same response. They’ll check with the Genesis rep on Monday (tomorrow) about finding an unsold XL bike in some other stockist, which might be transferable for my purchase. Otherwise, Genesis is a non-starter. To say I’m disappointed doesn’t come close!
So, just what are my back-up options?
Trek 520 Disc obviously – as I’ve been debating this bike versus the Genesis for the past several months. But, having already dismissed it, I’m not so quick to rush out to buy this instead.
Ridgeback Panorama: Another of the British bicycle brands I had previously loosely considered, but without self-debating as much as I did for the Trek 520 Disc. Certainly it offers a classic look, disc brakes and Shimano’s easy-to-use brake-shifters; but I’m less taken with the entry-level Sora spec, particularly for its price.
Surly Disc Trucker: I’ve been reading quite a few cycling blogs recently and starting to notice Surly’s Long Haul Trucker showing quite some popularity*. It’s a good looking bike too, proven very capable and dependable. Disc Trucker is simply the LHT upgraded to disc brakes (with slight geometrical tweaks to fit). Not the easiest to find in the UK though.
Kona Sutra: *alongside Surly’s LHT, Kona’s Sutra also seems to be a favourite amongst the cycling-bloggers. In spite of its name, the Sutra doesn’t immediately capture the eye, though it does scream of a wild time up the back of beyond. In terms of components, there’s really very little between this and the Trek, both offering a pick-&-mix of Shimano Alivio and Deore parts and 9-speed gearing; however, the Brook’s saddle as standard does show Kona’s serious intent.
I’m really holding out for the Genesis rep to come through and find me my bike. However, I reckon my second option will be a snap-decision between the Surly and Trek.
I’m coming round to the concept of bar-end shifters (which is a move away from my preferred Genesis) which both the Surly and Trek provide; from a visual perspective, I like the near-horizontal geometry of Surly’s top-tube; and yet, the more I try to find reason to dismiss the Trek, the more I find reason to like it.